China ups investment in Bordeaux wineries

Chinese conglomerate and Great Wall wine brand owner COFCO has bought Château de Viaud in Lalande de Pomerol for €10 million, following the company’s purchase of the sizeable Bisquertt Vineyard in Chile at the end of last year for US$18m.

chatdeviaud.jpg“Our Great Wall label is already the leader in the Chinese market; our role is to now set foot in other foreign wineries,” said COFCO vice-president Jingtao Chi at a signing ceremony in Bordeaux last week, confirming the company’s intention to acquire further overseas wineries and vineyards.

The deal marks the latest in a handful of Bordeaux acquisitions by Chinese investors, most recent of which was the purchase of the Château Chenu Lafitte brand and vineyard parcel by a Chinese shipping tycoon in November as a gift for his son, which followed the sale of Château Latour Laguens to Longhai Internation trading company in January.

It is surely no coincidence that both these little-known Bordeaux properties have names so closely associated with famous First Growth estates.

Château de Viaud’s former owner Philippe Raoux is said to have spent 30 months negotiating with COFCO before the sale was finalised.

Raoux is also owner of La Winery and Château d’Arsac in the Medoc and bought Château de Viaud, which is one of the oldest properties in the Lalande de Pomerol, in 2002.

The estate extends to a little over 21 hectares with 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on gravel and sand soils.

Patrick Schmitt, 24.02.2011

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